For lack of any real rail infrastructure in Canberra, the task of the domestic supply chain to deliver goods in and out of the nation’s capital, for the better part of five decades, has fallen on commercial road transport. As one of the three big road freight specialists in the area, Tony Innaimo Transport, now in its third decade operating up and down the east coast of Australia, provides interstate services across a diversified client base.
A commonality shared among many established transport companies is the origin story of a lone operator who starts out with one vehicle and rapidly builds from there.
In Canberra this is heightened in a market where the absence of intermodal connectivity demands that freight operators need multiple vehicles to compete.
It’s the only game in town to quote one local fleet manager. Everything that comes in must go out via road.
Founder Tony Innaimo, of course, has built the company from one solitary truck. Today the business runs over 40 commercial vehicles with 30 Kenworth prime movers now supported by additional investments in DAF commercial vehicles including a Euro 5 Super Space Cab and two Euro 6 DAF CF530s, which operate on daily linehaul duties from its recently established Newcastle depot.
The company has in recent times, with increased vehicle movements, expanded its footprint with new facilities in Altona and Arndell Park. These new sites join Yass and Wagga Wagga in what is fast becoming a burgeoning transport network.
At its main base in Fyshwick, the depot is operational Monday to Saturday. From here three DAF CF75 rigid 8×4 configured twin-steers roam the streets of the nation’s capital.
The bulk of the work is episodic by nature, requiring the vehicles to stop and start at high repetitions. Even so, they have been returning fuel figures of 2.8 kilometres per litre according to Fleet Maintenance and Compliance Manager John Cole.
“Those figures around town are very pleasing from my perspective,” he says. “The DAF CF75s are on a gruelling schedule and that has been intensified further at the back end of last year.”
Each of the DAF CF75s features a 16-pallet Tautliner body with a tuckaway tail-lift.
The usual regime for the DAF CF75 rigids, in which weekday work is furloughed on Saturdays for servicing, was extended to seven days of operation in December such was the demand for general freight.
Within these parameters the smaller trucks, runing on a 9.2 litre engine with a SMART injection system and DAF SCR techology, have real prowess in an application without fear of altering the pulse of deliveries.
Looking to inject further potency into the fleet while intent on exploring the DAF brand, in May last year, Tony Innaimo Transport took delivery of a DAF XF530 super space cab.
Designated for B-double application the vehicle has already amassed 140,000 kilometres since it went into service according to John, who is rapt by how it has, in short time, lived up to its early promise.
“We’re more than happy with the performance it has delivered. The fuel consumption average per week is anywhere between 2.25 and 2.35 litres per hundred kilometres in B-double application and again, those are the sort of figures you like to see.”
Meanwhile, a pair of Euro 6 DAF CF530s have recently been deployed for rugged linehaul work. The new trucks replace two Kenworth T409s with PACCAR engines and Eaton automatics.
Both vehicles have done over 900,000 kms and have gone onto less high-volume work. One of the vehicles shuttles up the Pacific Highway to Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour; the other goes to Rutherford, Tamworth and out through the Northern Tablelands to Armidale.
According to John, one of the principal conditions for Tony when it comes to new truck purchases is the build synchronicity.
“When you can buy a truck that is assembled as one piece in the sense the engine matches the gearbox and the gearbox matches the engine that’s what Tony was looking for,” he says. “So it’s a no-brainer to our way of thinking, to keep it all in unison.”
As the Tony Innaimo Transport fleet is predominantly represented by the Australian-built American-designed Kenworth, which are popular with the drivers, contemplating a European designed truck for the highway grind the company has essentially forged its reputation on, involved some old fashioned homework.
Having priced out several options and scrutinised tare weights for vehicles, space in the cab, safety architecture and flexibility for unloading and reloading at their sites, the asset managers in the team discovered they were committed to the DAF CF530 Euro 6 space cabs.
“We are still feeling our way with these two new ones. But everything seems to be ticking all the right boxes at this stage,” John says. “I’ve just had our tracking units fitted into them. Having spoken to our drivers they are more than happy with them since they have been in service. For sheer comfort and manoeuvrability, on first impressions these trucks are outstanding.”
All new vehicles including trailers were purchased through Brown & Hurley Coffs Harbour where the Euro 6 DAFs will also be serviced.
A couple of different fleet management programs have been integrated into its tracking system which provides alerts 3000 kilometres prior to the asset in question being due for a service.
In turn, John can send notifications through to the workshop where the tasks of capturing the vehicles is then programmed in advance.
That way the workshop can ensure it has the necessary oil filters and replacement parts are ready and any minor repairs can be completed.
This process often begins Friday morning and goes through to Saturday morning as the vehicles return to base. An auto electrician is called onsite most Saturdays to determine all lights and air conditioners are working correctly so that every vehicle is fully roadworthy for the next week of work.
Each vehicle in the fleet is allocated its own driver. Familiarity with both the vehicle and its logistical requirements are factored into maintaining optimal fuel economy, safety standards and delivering to client specifications.
During holidays John might look at replacing a vehicle into a particular role if one of the regular drivers is on leave.
“If we can’t then we’ll just put another person in the seat while they’re on annual leave,” he says.
The linear population surge of the capital and its surrounds has been on an upwards curve since 1987 when it boasted around 150,000 inhabitants.
By the year 2030 city planners, not always known for the accuracy of their modelling, expect that figure to reach half a million. A $14 billion investment in infrastructure across the city is in place just in case they’re right.
If last year intimated the future prospects of consumer-driven economies despite the specter of global disruption, road freight activity in Canberra will only rise.
Growing up in Queanbeyan, John knows the area intimately having hailed from a road freight family himself.
His father Barrie Cole had a transport business that serviced the region. That was how John got his start in the industry.
In fact he operated his own trucking business for seven years. The long hours away from home, a constant reality for many who have forged successful careers in road transport, however started to take its toll.
“My family grew up without me so I decided to sell up in 1999 and found a job that would afford me more time at home,” he recalls. “That resulted in managing a removal company and lasted for nine years before I started working for Tony.”
One of John’s main projects, now nearing completion, has been to bring online the first lot of handheld devices for the linehaul drivers.
“We’ve been testing that for a while and also working in cahoots with our telematics partner in regard to providing the drivers with a screen inside the cab where they can fulfill their prestart checks and record their mass management weights,” he says.
“There’s also a sign-on feature that will integrate with our transport management system in terms of eliminating paperwork. It’s been a long time coming and there was a fair bit of work involved.”
Hastening to introduce the latest technology from PACCAR on the new system, the tracking programs for the new Euro 6 DAF CF530s have had alerts for harsh braking, harsh acceleration, excessive idle and overspeed built into them to trigger a warning inside the cabin.
Tony Innaimo Transport partners with Intellifleet, a company based out of Wagga Wagga.
The partnership has grown over the past 12 months to the point it involves a software engineer who has put together a package to enable John to forward his job cards direct to tablet in the workshop where the mechanics are prompted to sign-off on tasks and contribute additional comments on future repairs.
Truck and trailer combinations get serviced every three weeks as they travel up to 15,000 kilometres in that time.
“In terms of service scheduling it makes it simple,” says John. “That’s where we see ourselves making some big gains. By simplifying our approach across operations through different digital solutions.”
The future, at least in the immediate sense, looks more than promising for Tony Innaimo Transport.